Begum Akhtar: Love’s Own Voice, written by S. Kalidas documents her troubled and tempestuous life through the narratives of some of her closest friends and associates.
The much loved classical diva of 20th century India Akhtaribai Faizabadi, or Begum Akhtar was the last of the great female singers from the courtesan (tawaif) community.
Begum Akhtar effortlessly transcended that label to marry Barrister Ishtiaq Ahmed Abbassi of Lucknow. Witty, vibrant, and engaging with the world at various levels, here was a remarkable woman who took life head-on, and by many accounts, perhaps a bit recklessly.
As a tawaif, she was trained to charm the system and subvert narrow patriarchal practices by means of highly sophisticated seduction. At another level, she was a hapless victim, constantly tormented by the twists and turns of her own destiny. She braved on regardless, driven by a deep inner quest to pursue love in its purest form, as an end in itself; be it in music or in life.
She also acted in several Bollywood films including Mumtaz Beghum (1934), Jawaani Ka Nasha(1935), King for a Day (1933, director : Raaj Hans).
Begum Akhtar received the Sangeet Natak Akademi award for vocal music as well as a Padma Shri. She was posthumously awarded the Padma Bhushan.
Today her name is almost synonymous with the concept of ghazal gayaki, and her imitable style of singing which immortalized her, and gave her the title of Mallika-e-Ghazal (Queen of Ghazals).
(Inputs: http://www.rolibooks.com and Wikipedia)